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The Madness Begins With Championship Week

Big Ten, ACC Fans Show Superiority on Social

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NCAA
Social Media
Published 
March 18, 2022
 | 
5
 min read

The pageantry of college basketball is illuminated through regional rivalries, passionate fan bases, and hotly contested games with significant stakes. No period on the calendar encapsulates each of these characteristics more distinctly than Championship Week. It is during this time that conferences across the nation stage condensed, single-elimination tournaments to crown champions who earn bragging rights over their bitter rivals for the following year. We used MVP’s social platform to determine which regions were most captivated by the competitions while also highlighting times of peak interest for each of this year’s six major men’s conference basketball tournaments. Our method included compiling popular keywords related to the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12, and SEC tournaments and examining how prevalent each was on Twitter from March 8-13. The results revealed 188,167 posts creating 1.2 million engagements and 3.97 billion impressions, indicating the madness has already begun.

Hoosier Hysteria Amplifies B1G Tournament

The people in Indiana claim they grow basketball there. While that may not be true, a nation of hoops fans set its gaze on the Hoosier State last week during the Big Ten Tournament. Fourteen teams from across the Midwest converged in Indianapolis for a five-day event that culminated with Iowa upsetting local favorite Purdue on Sunday afternoon. Though other tournaments were taking place in arguably more attractive destinations – such as New York City, Tampa, and Las Vegas – the Big Ten dominated Twitter discussions, receiving 88,923 mentions during the week – 27.88% of the conferences’ total. It also led all conferences in engagements, impressions, and post count. And while the Big Ten’s post count was higher than the rest at 27% of the total, the 2.48 billion impressions generated far outpaced the league’s counterparts, accounting for 63% of all impressions throughout the week. By contrast, the ACC, which was second in both categories, produced 25% of the posts but received only 12% of the impressions.  The Pac-12 drummed up the least interest in its showcase, amassing 121.8 million impressions and 59,171 engagements, neither surpassing 5% of the overall total.

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Proximity Is Prominent Social Factor

Overwhelmingly, the social media discussions surrounding each of the major men’s conference basketball tournaments last week originated from areas with close connections to the competitions. We used MVP’s platform to examine the regional breakdown of tweets mentioning the six events. Of the posts from a known location, Illinois held the top spot among states, bolstered by the basketball hotbed of Chicago, which accounted for 9,941 mentions – 3.5x more than any other city. But after Illinois, the next eight states in terms of activity had at least one local school competing in a championship game or played host to one or more tournaments. Texas finished second by totaling 8,092 mentions – 7.36% of the states’ sum – thanks, in part, to Texas Tech and Texas A&M competing in the Big XII and SEC championships, respectively. The Aggies opponent in the SEC Championship, the University of Tennessee, helped lift the Volunteer State’s weekly total to 7,480 mentions. It was followed by North Carolina – represented by Duke in the ACC championship – with 6,523 mentions for 5.93% of the total and New York – which hosted both the ACC and Big East Tournaments – with 4.99% of the total mentions at 5,483. The next four states on our activity list were Iowa, Indiana, Florida, and California, each eclipsing 3% of the total mentions.

Climactic Conclusions Demand Discussion

A theme that emerged from our study was the unsurprising reality that an event’s magnitude has a direct correlation with how intense the online discussion becomes. Mentions for five of the six tournaments we examined peaked during their respective championship games. The lone outlier was the Big Ten, which executed a social media campaign on the morning of Quarterfinal Friday, tagging various accounts with the same message to create a social stir. However, consistent with other tournaments, the Big Ten’s second-most active hour occurred during its championship game between Purdue and Iowa at 4 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 13, when it garnered 3552 mentions.  The highest championship peak belonged to the ACC, which received 4,788 mentions during the 9 p.m. EST hour on Saturday, March 12 as Virginia Tech was completing its Cinderella run to a championship by defeating top-seeded Duke. The SEC also performed comparatively well, receiving 4,340 mentions during the hour encompassing its title game’s conclusion on Sunday.

The Big Dance Dawns

Every team began conference tournament play with the goal of winning a league championship. But, for many, long-term sights were set on the NCAA Tournament and an eventual national title. Conference tournaments are at the same time critical benchmarks for defining success and mere appetizers for the Big Dance. MVP will continue to monitor social activity surrounding each round of March Madness to provide insights into fan engagement for all the favorites and bracket busters in the coming weeks.

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